Article Overview:   Two Warriors of Vigilance have been killed, the first combat deaths.  There are also non-combatants who are dying.   We can salute them now.  We can shed a tear of sorrow to water the Seeds of Vigilance.  We can salute Peace by standing up for Vigilance, and remembering the blood of those who are dying in Iraq is fertilizing the future of peace--if, we stand up for the Principles of Vigilance.


Saturday--March 22, 2003—Ground Zero Plus 556
 Two Marines Die--Saluting Sentinels Of Vigilance
Cliff McKenzie
   Editor, New York City Combat Correspondent News

GROUND ZERO, New York City, Mar. 22-- This morning I awoke to the war news.   It was 4:11 a.m., my private writing time when the Great New York City sleeps.

Two Marines are killed in battle

      As of this time there were two official combat deaths.  Two Marines dead.   A number of other American and British troops were killed in operational accidents, helicopters crashing or colliding, but these are not classed as combat deaths.
       I thought of the Iraqi Wall, or the Baghdad Wall, or whatever the name of the monument might be that may one day be built to inscribe the names of those who die in this battle, this Gulf War II, this Operation Liberty designed to free the people of Iraq from Saddam Hussein's tyranny.


We are attacking the Beast of Terror in Iraq

       Yesterday, there was a video tape of Iraqis tearing down a picture of Saddam, symbolic of the toppling of the statue of Lenin in Moscow Square, or the blowing up of the Nazi swastika during WWII in Berlin.
       There are symbols of oppression, reminders that tyranny seeks to extol its own virtues by idolizing itself.   A sign of Freedom is when these icons are removed by the people in whose shadows they cowered.
        The first Marine to die was from the First Marine Division, my old division that landed in Vietnam to spearhead the war there three decades ago.   He was mortally wounded securing an oil pumping station with his platoon in southern Iraq.   The second Marine was killed taking the port of Umm Qasr.  He was with the 1st Marine Expeditionary Brigade.
        One day, when the wall or monument is built, these two Marines' names will, or should, lead the list.   They are commonly called the "first blood of war."

Basra  is under attack

        Currently, the second largest city in Iraq, Basra, is under attack.   I assume there will be more casualties, more combat deaths.
        But there are two deaths that represent the alpha and omega of any war--the first and the last.   We salute those who died.   The salute for the dead is respectful.  You bring you hand to your forehead in a slow, deliberate manner, measuring the hand movement an inch at a time so the world recognizes you are saluting not just the fallen one, but all who fell before, and all who will fall after.

I salute my friends and all "victims of war"

         I was taken by the news this morning.
         I stood and slowly saluted, remembering my friends who had died, some 58,000 in Vietnam, and over 1.7 million since World War I.   I saluted not just the warriors who fought with guns, but the non-combatants.   My friend Lt. Vince Capodanno, a Maryknoll priest, carried no weapons but crawled out in battle to help the wounded.   He received the Congressional Medal of Honor for his bravery posthumously.   I saluted him also.
         I also saluted all the "victims of war."  In Vietnam there were some 2 million casualties of the war.   I did not neglect them in my salute.
         I also offered my salute to the 60 million deaths of civilians and military during  WWII.  (For more data on WWII casualties use this link--Casualties WWII)      
         In Iraq, there will be casualties and deaths of both military and civilians.  
         So far, we've launched 1,000 missiles, carrying payloads of 1,000 pounds of TNT, over one billion pounds of destruction unleashed.
         This doesn't count all the bullets and air strikes.
         Our weapons, fortunately, can be guided within 7 feet of their targets, limiting the "victims of war."    While the precision of weapons cannot totally control the deaths of the innocent, it does limit unnecessary deaths.  

The Horror of it all.......

         I try to wade through the dead bodies of war.   I try to see past the horror of war's destruction and see the future, the result of war.
         I try to see the price of Freedom.
         It isn't easy.
         Sometimes, the blood both warriors and the innocent blinds one to the purpose of war, for the horror of it all far surpasses what will sprout from the bones of the dead.
          Right now, the battle is against tyranny.   Allied forces initially laid waste to the Presidential Palaces in Baghdad, attempting to force the Iraqi military commands to capitulate, to surrender to avoid utter destruction.
         The sooner that happens, the fewer casualties will occur, the fewer deaths of both warriors and non-combatants.
         Once Iraq is freed from the hands of oppression, the blood that soaks into its sand will hopefully fertilize a land of Liberty, a place where the children can be free to protest their leaders without fear of reprisal, where the citizens can become Parents and Loved Ones of Vigilance and shout out their dismay over actions of their government they deem counter-productive to the safety and security of their Children's Children's Children.
         If there is a price of war, then that price is worth the cost, for the safety of the future of the Iraqi children to live free is worth every ounce of blood spilled.
         As I listen to the news media speaking about casualties, it concerns me that they do not cite the ratio of civilians to the military.   I believe it is important to consider those who die in the center of the sandwich of war deserve as much honor as the warriors themselves.

Also Victims of War's ugliness

         Historically, that ratio is at least 20 to 1.  Hopefully, our smart bombs will lower that ratio.
        But when walls of tribute are built in the future, we shouldn't neglect the non-combatants when such monuments are raised.
        At Ground Zero, nearly 3,000 non-combatants were killed.  Their names were read into history.  I hope we read the names of those in Iraq who died, who, like the innocent in the World Trade Center and Flight 93, and in the Pentagon, were victims of war's ugliness.
        And most of all, I hope the fruits of war will grow strong in Iraq, and that Freedom and Liberty will evolve into Vigilance, so that all the citizens of Iraq and the world can stand as a model of how to avoid the next war, by avoiding the tyranny and oppression of others over them.

Join me and salute the dead of Iraq and all those who have died in past conflicts

        I salute all the Sentinels of Vigilance.  The two Marines who died, and the nameless, faceless Iraqis who are dying.    May their names and faces be embossed in our minds as Sentinels of Vigilance for they have joined the other Sentinels of Vigilance, reminding us all to protect the future we must face the Beast of Terror before he grows into the monster we are attacking in Iraq.
       You can honor them now, before any walls or monuments are built.  You can stand up and stiffen your back.  You can slowly raise your right hand up to your forehead in a measured tribute to them.  You can salute the dead of Iraq, and all who have died in the past, and let your salute be your first act as a Parent or Citizen of Vigilance.
        And, it's okay to let a tear fall.
        Know that our tears of sorrow  water the seeds of Vigilance.




Mar. 21--Splitting Hairs From The Beast of Protest Terror

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